2019 EnduroGP of Portugal digest – awesome images and all the talking points from Valpaços

The Enduro21 2019 World Enduro Championship notebook race round-up with rider quotes and the very best images from round two in Portugal where Brad Freeman took the overall win.

 

Round two of the 2019 World Enduro Championship is confined to history and it was a spectacular one. Spectacular for the location and the course laid on in Portugal but mainly for the riding. Tight at the top? That ain’t the half of it! 

2019 is looking like a vintage year already for the simple fact that in any given test there are 10, often more, riders who could come out on top. For Bradley Freeman, day two was certainly a vintage one as the Boano Beta rider traded blows with World Championship rival, Steve Holcombe and fought to the last to seal his first overall victory of 2019.

 
brad.freeman EnduroGP 2019 Rnd2 4325 560
 

Crucially Freeman just kept nudging the odd half second here, the odd second there, to grow a lead which he kept hold of and waved above his head at the finish.

But it wasn’t that easy as Freeman admits, “It was not without mistakes. I was at the limit and me and Steve were both pushing and crashing.

“It was hard because the tests didn’t allow you to gain that much time and we were fighting for half seconds to make a difference. For the mind, this race was really hard.”

 
christophe.charlier EnduroGP 2019 Rnd2 2264 560
 

It was far from a clear cut two-horse race though as no single rider dominated the tests with Freeman and Holcombe being joined by Christophe Charlier and Danny McCanney in taking test wins – the top 10 or so riders in each test switching like shuffled cards.

It was a good weekend for Christophe Charlier who was clearly enjoying himself on the 450 four stroke Honda in the Cross test at least. Charlier took fastest Cross test times on four occasions across the weekend on the MX track.  

Frenchman, Charlier was one of three Honda riders strongly representing the red massive at the weekend. Charlier (Redmoto Honda) and Davide Guarneri (Honda RedMoto Lunigina team) and Alex Salvini (S2 Motorsports Sembenini Honda RedMoto Team) were having good weekends.

 
alex.salvini EnduroGP 2019 Rnd2 5472 560
 

Salvini signalled he was getting somewhere close to his best for the first time in 2019 back on the Honda. Although he’ll surely be looking for overall wins, as he was achieving last season, P3 overall on both days and P1 in E2 on a super-competitive weekend was a good sign for the big man.

Holcombe’s story on day two was not the same convincing one as we have seen up to this point in 2019 – even if it had been on day one. The World EnduroGP Champion said: “I struggled in the first few laps and the race didn’t develop for me as much as I thought it would. 

“There was really just one line on the tests and I struggled to try and push and make some time. As a consequence from that I had quite a big crash in the second Enduro test and couldn’t rebuild my confidence from then on.” 

 
steve.holcombe EnduroGP 2019 Rnd2 4374 560
 

The riders were clearly pushing hard in the conditions, mind-blowingly fast on the tests, pushing to the point of making mistakes and crashing.

Making a mistake is easy enough as any rider knows and the more determined you get to make that difference the easier it can get. Riders suffering costly errors included Eero Remes on day one and Danny McCanney on day two.

Both had mountains to climb after mistakes and as McCanney said, after his Extreme test crash on test one, day two, “Fourth feels like a win today for me.” 

 
danny.mccanney EnduroGP 2019 Rnd2 4432 560
 

McCanney’s TM Racing team-mate Loic Larrieu wasn’t so happy with his weekend however. Loic had been sailing high on day one, sitting behind Holcombe in P2 after eight of the 12 tests when his engine decided enough was enough.

Sadly the problem wasn’t fixed for Sunday and the Frenchman suffered a double no points score.

 
loic.larrieu EnduroGP 2019 Rnd2 2720 560
 

What about Enric Francisco in the Juniors? The unassuming-looking young Spanish kid only went and put himself on top of the J2 world after three wins from four now in 2019. For a while, during day two, it also actually looked like Enric could steal an overall win as he topped the Junior time sheets.

 
enric.francisco EnduroGP 2019 Rnd2 5006 560
 

Champiosnhip leader Andrea Verona had other ideas though. Portugal saw Verona take his fourth win from four days in both the Juniors overall and J1 class. It is his championship in 2019 if he wants it, even at this early stage. 

 
andrea.verona EnduroGP 2019 Rnd2 4205 560
 

The overall Junior podium was completed by Jack Edmondson who also had a strong weekend in Portugal after two days battling with his Sherco team-mate, Theo Espinasse.

 
jack.edmondson EnduroGP 2019 Rnd2 3272 560
 

In the Youth 125 class it doesn’t seem to matter how hard Claudio Spanu, Matteo Pavoni or Alejandro Navarro try to take it to the man, at the moment, neither has an answer to the domination of Hamish MacDonald.

Hammy Mac is making a great job of banging out test wins to build a healthy lead and control the races. More than that though, he also looks like he’s having fun out there. 

 
hamish.mcdonald EnduroGP 2019 Rnd2 4046 560
 

The Open World Cup classes continue to boost the GP entries this season and are bringing a refreshing feel to the paddock – in most cases that air of “real world, back of the van enduro” than the slick operating factory teams.

This weekend saw a new guy challenging for the overall fastest times with British rider Tom Ellwood appearing on the scene. David knight has been the pace-setter in the open classes but on day one in Portugal the Kawasaki-riding Ellwood grabbed the overall and 4T class wins. 

 
ellwood MG EnduroGP Portugal 560
 

The battle resumed on day two with the veteran Knighter looking typically gritty and determined as he turned the tables and took back top spot along with the Senior Open class win. 

 
david.knight portugal EnduroGP 2019 560
 

What about Gas Gas? No Factory team appeared at the Portuguese GP and they will certainly not be at the Spanish GP next weekend. 

Why? A “re-structuring” of staff at the Girona base is underway and with redundancies likely at the factory the decision was made to knock the expensive part of the operation on the head for a few weeks until things are settled. 

Bad news for the GP riders Christophe Nambotin and Alex Snow although Matthew Van Oevelen got to Portugal under his own steam to race the Juniors. For national distributors and dealers, it is business as usual. 

 
Gas Gas EnduroGP 2019 Rnd2 5016 560
 
 
Photo Credit: Future7Media/Andrea Belluschi/Mastorgne
 
 
 
 
Byline jp ISDE 2018 Enduro21
Jon Pearson
Enduro21 Editor and Bike Tester
jon.pearson@enduro21.com